Winter Elk-Feeding in Yellowstone Region Debated


by Deborah Courson Smith

JACKSON, Wy. – “To feed, or not to feed?” is the question being debated when it comes to elk in western Wyoming. A decision to renew a feeding permit is pending in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, and there are at least 30 other feeding sites. Herds have been fed during the winter for more than 75 years, a practice that came into play to restore populations after they were over-hunted. 

Lloyd Dorsey, conservation director with the Sierra Club Wyoming Chapter, says that was well-intentioned, but it isn't needed anymore and should be phased out. “The unintended consequences are these elk are contracting diseases because they're kept in disease-ridden conditions,” says Dorsey. 

The elk are confined when they show up for feeding, and Dorsey says that kind of environment is ripe for hoof rot, which can and has killed elk at feeding grounds. He adds the bigger looming threat is chronic wasting disease an always-fatal infection that is highly contagious. 

A decision is expected soon from the Bridger-Teton Forest on whether to re-permit elk feeding at Alkali Creek. 

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Source:  Public News Service – WY

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